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In 1995, when the Springboks triumphantly raised the Webb Ellis Cup, the IDC funded expansion plans at Africa's leading semi-fabricated aluminium products producer.

aluminiumaluminiumIt was a magic moment for South Africa as the country's first black president, Nelson Mandela, hoisted the 1995 Web Ellis Cup and presented it to Springboks captain, Francois Pienaar.

The year is etched in the minds of millions of South Africans who watched the Rugby World Cup as it played out on South African soil, culminating in the Springboks beating the mighty All Blacks in the final at Ellis Park on 24 June.

It was also a ground-breaking year for Hulamin Ltd, which expanded its operations with funding from the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC). The expansion project - to establish new cold and hot rolling mills for its rolled products - cost R2-billion, well-below the budgeted R3-billion, and was funded by the IDC and partners at the time, Tongaat-Hulett Group and Anglo American.

The new mills increased Hulamin's production capacity from 50 000 to 200 000 tonnes per annum and its product range expanded. The project led to the corporation's Pietermaritzburg plant becoming internationally competitive in terms of manufacturing costs, product pricing, and the quality and range of locally manufactured aluminium rolled products.

The project also boosted South Africa's economy; with Hulamin's aluminium rolled products being exported, the country's balance of trade, through export earnings generation and import replacement, improved tremendously.

Hulamin manufactures technically demanding, high-margin aluminium semi-fabricated products including heat-treated plate, closure sheets, thin gauge foil, bright treadplate and superior finish painted products. It also manufactures clad products for automotive heat exchangers, which are mainly supplied to export markets.

With four plants, Hulamin is the continent's leading producer of extruded aluminium products. It also owns downstream operations involved in manufacturing and distributing rigid foil containers, high-pressure aluminium cylinders and cladding products for the building industry.

Hulamin's main site is the rolled products plant in Pietermaritzburg; it includes hot and cold rolling mills, foil mills, remelt facilities, coating lines and other precision finishing equipment.

With a 30% stake in the JSE-listed company, the IDC is currently the largest single shareholder in Hulamin. In 2007, the corporation and its partners at the time set up an economic empowerment programme to support previously disadvantaged groups and local businesses.